A few weeks ago, my three-year-old asked me to make him Vanilla Soup. Hmmm…vanilla soup? Never heard of such a thing, but who am I to argue with the kid whose binoculars can transform into a jetpack; the kid who calls the fan a Bloominator; the very same kid who decided he’d prefer to be called Gastack and has been introducing himself as such ever since; the kid who, as I write this, is stomping around the living room in robot fashion, shouting Robot, Robot, Robot Secrets as he cleans up his toys. Vanilla Soup it is!
I thought about his request for a while; pondered how I’d go about making a vanilla soup. My sister suggested that I just melt a container of vanilla ice cream and pour it in a bowl. Voila! Vanilla Soup. That idea probably would have worked just fine for my little guy, but it didn’t gel well with me. If I were going to cook a vanilla soup, I was going to make a valiant effort at creating something that was both delicious and nutritious.
I’d need to select flavors which would showcase the vanilla, without overwhelming it. It should be sweet, but not necessarily fruity. My first thought was pumpkin, but that hardly seemed seasonal. I considered butternut squash for a while; a definite contender.I gave sweet potatoes their due consideration as well. And then I thought about carrots. Why, yes! Carrots would work nicely.
Carrots are loaded with natural sugars. To help develop their natural sweetness, I decided to give them a slow roast in the oven. I threw a couple apricots in the mix for added sweetness and a touch of tart. To the roasted carrots and apricots, I added light cream, infused with fresh vanilla bean. I pureed the carrots, apricots, and vanilla cream with a touch of honey and ground ginger. Finally, I added milk until the consistency seemed right. Simple as that. I chose not to add any other seasonings; not even salt…gasp! Let the vanilla be the star.
Turned out to be a very yummy soup; creamy and slightly sweet with a definite vanilla flavor. I adore the little specks of fresh vanilla bean running throughout the soup. My only complaint is that the texture turned out to have a slightly gritty feel; not entirely unpleasant, but definitely noticeable. I’m pretty sure this was a result of my decision to roast the carrots, which caused them to develop a slightly hardened exterior. I tried straining the soup, but my fine sieve was too fine and the holes in my colanders were too big. I knew I needed more strainers! My guess is that boiled carrots would probably produce a smoother, though less sweet soup. Despite the somewhat gritty texture, I think I’d stick with roasting.
This soup is best served warm. For a nice finish, top it with a drizzle of creme fraiche and some diced dried apricots or pumpkin seeds.
Vanilla Carrot Bisque
- 1 8oz package Baby Carrots (about 3 cups)
- 2 Apricots
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 cup Light Cream
- 1 1/2 cups Milk
- 1 Vanilla Bean, split in half, seeds scraped with the edge of a knife
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss the carrots in the oil and arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet. Place the apricots in a small baking dish. Roast the carrots and apricots in the oven for about an hour. When cool enough to handle, cut the apricots in half, remove the seed, and scoop out the tender insides. In a saucepan, add the cream, vanilla bean, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla extract. Heat the cream over medium heat until it comes to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean. Use a blender, food processor, or immersion blender to puree the carrots, apricots, and vanilla cream until smooth. Add the honey and ginger. Puree for a few seconds more to combine. Add milk until the soup reaches your desired consistency. Taste and add more honey if desired.
To serve, warm the soup in a saucepan or microwave. Top with creme fraiche (or sour cream), dried apricot, or seeds.